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Book Review


While You Were Reading by Ali Berg and Michelle Kalus

July 1, 2019

While You Were Reading is a quirky, lighthearted novel just perfect for a weekend read. A delightful contemporary romance about finding your true self, and real friends that warmed my heart, and had me staying up late till the last page.

Full of bookish references, and plenty of Melbourne haunts, there’s lots to love including very relatable bookworm Bea, who is trying to rebuild her life after moving to Melbourne for a fresh start. Picking up a second hand book at a local bookstore, she falls in love with the handwritten annotations in the margins, and begins a quest to hunt down the author. Finding herself in a job she hates, lacking in friends, she turns to the local Barista Dino for motivation and moral support, who supplies her apt handwritten bookish quotes on her daily coffee cups.

I absolutely enjoyed The Book Ninja, and I wasn’t sure that While You Were Reading would be able to live up to the first book by Ali Berg and Michelle Baus, but I’m very pleased to be wrong. I’ve added them both to my must-read author list, and will be keeping a keen eye out for their next novel.

* This eBook ARC was provided by Simon & Schuster (Australia) through NetGalley for an honest review.


A People’s History of the Vampire Uprising by Raymond A. Villareal

May 31, 2018

A People’s History of the Vampire Uprising is not your typical vampire tale, but rather it follows the NOBI virus from when it is first discovered by Doctor Lauren Scott, and is unleashed on a world that is not prepared to handle it.

When I read the synopsis for this novel I was excited. It looked like just the sort of book I’d love, and the cover was eye-catching. But unfortunately for me, it was a struggle to read. We frequently jumped from voice to voice, and because the detached ‘historical’ way in which things were told, it was really difficult to find myself connecting with the characters, so when they died, it just felt like a statistic rather than a creepy-horror scene.

The scientific explanations I actually kind of loved, with a science background myself, I love it when books get a bit technical, but what I didn’t like were the excessively long paragraphs that went on for over a page, making it really difficult to keep reading.

The world building was great, and the world felt detailed and well thought out, but the pacing was slow, with very little in the way of action, further adding to the problem staying focused on the story.

3 out of 5 stars.

* This eBook ARC was provided by Hachette Australia through NetGalley for an honest review.


The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy

May 14, 2018

The Perfect Mother is a page-turning psychological thriller about a mothers group called the May Mothers that get together regularly to talk about their experiences raising a newborn baby. But when one of their own has her young baby kidnapped while the group is having a rare night out together, they are quick to rally around her and try do everything they can to help Winnie get her baby Midas back.

This book was well-paced and difficult to put down, and while with most of this genre I usually guess exactly what is what, with the Perfect Mother Molloy had more than a few surprises in store for me as I read. I found the characters engaging, flawed and very relatable as a young mother myself, I could see little bits of myself in all of them. I found the reflection on the pressures society places on mothers to be perfect, and do everything ‘just so’ particularly relevant. And how often mothers feel the need to present ourselves with this perfect image even to other mothers, who are likely struggling just as much as we are.

And through it all, that bond of friendship that has been created in that May Mothers group shines as they learn more about each others darkest secrets, and work together to solve this mystery.

4 out of 5 stars.

* This eBook ARC was provided by Hachette Australia through NetGalley for an honest review.


Our House by Louise Candlish

April 9, 2018

Her short break away with her new boyfriend ends with something Fiona Lawson was never prepared for, returning to Trinity Avenue to find someone else moving into her beloved house that she shared with her separated partner, and two boys. Her estranged husband, Bram, has conveniently disappeared, and it’s left to Fiona to unravel just what happened and to try pull her life together from the pieces he left.

Fi retells her part of the story through a popular victim podcast, while we hear from Bram’s side in a tell-all word document.  Small snippets of present day goings on with the strangers that have moved into Fiona’s home are gradually built upon between the twists and turns that Louise Candlish weaves.

Unfortunately for me, I found the pacing in the middle two thirds of the book slow and difficult to get through and it was a bit of a struggle to keep reading. Ultimately I’m glad I did though, because I did enjoy the detailed plot and how it all unfolded in the last few chapters. Still, there is still much to love about this story: the premise of the book is different from anything else I have read and I enjoyed trying to guess where things were going, and was pleased that while I was right on quite a few of the twists, there were still a couple that I didn’t guess!

Overall this would be 3 out of 5 star read for me.

* This ebook ARC was provided by Simon & Schuster (Australia) through NetGalley for an honest review.




The Queen’s Rising by Rebecca Ross

March 26, 2018

Born illegitimately, with an unknown father, and her mother dead, Brienna is raised by her grandfather until she turns 10, when she is handed over to Magnalia House to be educated in one of the five passions. And she tries them all, before finally settling on Knowledge. Her indecision costs her though, and she has considerably less time to prepare for Solstice, and things do not go according to plan. Left without a patron, Brienne unexpectedly finds herself in the middle of a dangerous plot to overthrow the King of Maevana.

That I found myself awake till two in the morning, unable to put the book down, and needing to finish the last couple of chapters, is likely indication enough that The Queen’s Rising for me was a five star read. It was incredibly well written, and it was easy to imagine all the little details of the characters and the world as the story is told.

I loved that Brienna is far from perfect, her failures surprised me, and it made her all the more relatable and believable. I adored her friendships with the other girls at Magnalia House, particularly with her room mate. And of course, her Master, Cartier. While the romance side of things, definitely did have a bit of a slow burn, it did feel like a bit like she fell in love with him near instantly at the start of the story. But that doesn’t really take into account the 7 or so years she spent with him being taught ‘off-screen’.

For me there was plenty of action going on to keep me reading, and struggling to put this book down every night, but towards the end, things seemed to wrap up just a little too perfectly, which doesn’t leave much room for a sequel, given the book is the first in a trilogy. I would loved to have seen a few more unexpected twists and perhaps just a couple more things going wrong at the end.

5 out of 5 Stars.

* This ebook ARC was provided by HarperCollins Publishers Australia through NetGalley for an honest review.


Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman

March 19, 2018

Starfish tells a story about a young half Japanese woman Kiko, and her emotional journey of self discovery and strength as she struggles to cope with being rejected from her dream art school, Prism. With her best friend, Emery, leaving town, Kiko loses her crutch and starts to make the first steps into the world on her own, and her less than understanding, and self absorbed mother doesn’t make it any easier for her. Gradually as the story is told, Kiko learns about the true meaning of beauty, friendship, and family and finds a strength in her she didn’t realise she had, but was there all along.

“I feel weird just standing there listening. Do other people do that? Move from circle to circle, socialising with everyone like they all know each other? It seems invasive. I don’t know the rules.”

This novel is told from Kiko’s point of view, which I absolutely loved. So much of what she said resonated so strongly with me, particularly when she describes and draws about her experience with social anxiety. The anxiety was represented beautifully, and there were so many points in the book where I felt it was echoing exactly the sorts of things I’ve felt. In my head, I was mentally saying. “This is me. This is me. I’ve been there,” so many times, which made the whole story all the more poignant and personal.

I love the little descriptions of her sketches at the ends of the chapters an seeing how they evolved as Kiko grows as a person and learns about how to be strong and deal with her hideous mother which has had such a strangling and suffocating effect on her, and her siblings.

I adored that as the story progressed, she was self aware enough to realise that she needed to do a bit of healing, on her own. That Jamie can’t ‘save’ her, and before she can let people into her life, and love them, she needs to learn to accept and love herself,

This book is just beautiful and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

* This ebook ARC was provided by Black & White Publishing through NetGalley for an honest review.


5 / 5 stars



Akemi Dawn Bowman is the author of Starfish (Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster) and Summer Bird Blue (Fall 2018). She’s a proud Ravenclaw and Star Wars enthusiast, who served in the US Navy for five years and has a BA in social sciences from UNLV. Originally from Las Vegas, she currently lives in England with her husband, two children, and their Pekingese mix.

She is represented by Penny Moore of Empire Literary.



Let Me Lie by Clare Mackintosh

March 15, 2018

Let Me Lie is a psychological thriller about a new Mum, Anne, trying to cope in the aftermath of the suicidal death of her two parents just over a year ago. Both having killed themselves in the same manner, at a local cliff, within a few months of each other.  On the anniversary of her mother’s death, Anne receives a card through her mail box, and what starts as a straight forward and open-and-shut case, quickly becomes something much more complex once Anne, and ex- Crime Investigator Murray starts to delve into it.  All of this takes place within the normality of their world, with each of the character dealing with their own spectrum of problems, from mental illness, money woes, and family issues.

One particular thing I do want to mention: I must admit, I did love seeing Anne breastfeeding publicly and while we’re told over and over that this is okay, it’s rare that we see this represented in novels. And Murray’s reaction was appropriate, and reflective of how a lot of people new to the experience might feel when faced with it for the first time.

I went into this story largely blind, avoiding the blurb, and any reviews about it to avoid the possibility of spoilers, either intentional or accidental. I wanted to go on that journey of discovery of Anne and be running theories through my head and getting that special kind of thrill when you learn you’re right! And I wasn’t disappointed, and while I certainly did guess  a couple of the major plot twists, there were plenty that I did not, enough to keep it interesting, and make it one of those hard-to-put-down reads.

This is the first novel of Clare Mackintosh that I have read, and it absolutely won’t be the last.

4 / 5 stars.

* This ebook ARC was provided by Hachette Australia through NetGalley for an honest review.


Blog Tour

Blog Tour for Phoenix Fire by S.D. Grimm

March 15, 2018

This is my first blog tour thing, so I feel ever so lucky to be invited by Entangled Publishing, after being offered an ebook copy of Phoenix Fire to review.

After spending her life in foster care, Ava has finally found home. But all it takes is a chance encounter with hot nerd Wyatt Wilcox for it to unravel.

Now, things are starting to change. First, the flashes of memories slowly creeping in. Memories of other lives, lives that Wyatt is somehow in. Then, the healing. Any cut? Gone.

But when Cade and Nick show up, claiming to be her brothers, things get even weirder. They tell her she’s a Phoenix, sent to protect the world from monsters—monsters she never knew existed. It’s a little hard to accept. Especially when they tell her she has to end the life of a Phoenix turned rogue, or Cade will die.

With Wyatt’s increasingly suspicious behavior, Ava’s determined to figure out what he’s hiding. Unless she can discover Wyatt’s secret in time and complete her Phoenix training, she’ll lose the life, love, and family she never thought she could have.

My Review:-

“If I didn’t start pushing them away soon, they’d push me away. I couldn’t take that again. Not from another family.”

At first, Ava is all prickles and porcupine spines, eager to push her new found family away, refusing to believe that they might possibly be the family she’s looking her, to love her, all of her, despite her flaws. After years of rejection, she wants to do it first. Because it just hurts less that way.

And slowly, as the story is told, her walls, her defenses are gradually destroyed and she starts to open herself to them, and the others around her. And like moth to a flame, she can’t help feel drawn to Wyatt, the hot new geeky guy at her school, who slowly untangles her, getting beneath her skin and seeing a side of her she normally keeps hidden from most.

So, firstly the bit that I didn’t love so much: The story shifts point of view frequently, with Cade, Nick, Ava and others taking turns at narrating and providing views of events through their perspective. The story jumps often from past to present as they gradually remember what happens to the past, and deal with the consequences in the future. Especially in the first quarter in the book, this did feel very jarring, and it was, at times, very difficult to follow what was going on from one chapter to the next. But it does improve, and for anyone who is having trouble in the first few chapters, I recommend sticking with it, as it does get easier. There was a little bit of insta-love, which I’m not really a fan of, I prefer a slower burn when it comes to such things.

And what I did love: the story feels original, and the characters are detailed and intricate. The cover is gorgeous, and premise on which the book is built on, the warring of these dark and light phoenixes through cycles is unique from most of the YA fantasy books in the market. I kind of like that the main character makes mistakes, and is a bit prickly, and slow to trust. Nothing grates on me more than a ‘perfect’ Mary Sue protagonist.

So overall, Phoenix Fire is definitely worth a read if you want a YA fantasy that’s just a little bit different.

* This ebook ARC was provided by Entangled Publishing, LLC through NetGalley for an honest review.


S. D. Grimm’s first love in writing is young adult fantasy and science fiction, which is to be expected from someone who looks up to heroes like Captain America and Wonder Woman, has been sorted into Gryffindor, and identifies as rebel scum. Her patronus is a red Voltron lion, her spirit animal is Toothless, and her favorite meal is second breakfast. Her office is anywhere she can curl up with her laptop and at least one large-sized dog.You can learn more about her upcoming novels at

Author Links:-

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Goodreads | Newsletter


Excerpt from Phoenix Fire:

He shrugged. “I should have expected Danny to warn you about me.”

“It’s not like you made a habit out of beating people up, right?” I offered a smile.

The way his gaze locked onto mine, suddenly easier to read though the moonlight was blocked by branches here, made me think he might be staring deep into a memory, too.


He sucked in a breath. “Right. I don’t go around hurting people.”

“No. You let them pick on you.” I released his hands.

His small laugh seemed to drip bitterness. “Well, I can’t exactly fight back—I’d be in so much trouble if I were to have another…incident—and they know it.”

That ignited a fireball in my stomach. That’s why they picked on him? “How can people be so cruel?” I pointed my flashlight on the path ahead. “Can I show you something?”

“Of course.”

Within a few minutes, we’d arrived to my favorite place on the run. I stepped through the thinning dune grass and out onto a sandy cliff of the top of a dune. From here we could see over Lake Michigan. But the sun had already set, leaving nothing but darkness in front of us.

Here, at night, the best view was looking up.

I sat down and motioned to the stars. “I looked up Andromeda after you came over.”

“Yeah?” His voice carried the hint of awe and surprise mingled together.

“But I don’t know which constellation it is.”

He sat beside me and leaned close enough that his shoulder brushed against mine. “There.” His fingers traced an outline of stars. “It’s been said that she’s a beautiful princess.”

“I read that, too.” I chuckled. “But like all princesses, she got into trouble.”

He laughed. “Yes. She got herself captured.”

I made my voice mock-dreamy. “But her handsome prince—what was his name?

Perseus!—saved her. I can only imagine they lived happily ever after.”

He didn’t respond, so I tore my eyes away from the night sky and found Wyatt already looking at me.

“Thank you,” he said, turning his attention back to the sky as a breeze off the lake muffled his quiet words. “For not making me feel like a monster for what I did.”

I wanted to touch him again, but I refrained. “You’re hardly a monster, Wyatt.”

Something in his soft smile made my heart beat faster.



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I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman

March 6, 2018

I Have Lost My Way follows the lives of three individuals as they collide into each other in a very literal way when Freya falls from a bridge, only to land on Nathaniel, with Harun there to witness. Freya is an up and coming singer, who has lost her voice. Nathaniel is a small town boy who has just arrived in New York with little to his name, and Harun is a homosexual Muslim son, destined to leave home and find a wife and recently lost the love of his life, James.

The story follows their lives over the next twenty four hours as they find themselves connected in more ways than they imagine, each dealing with loss, and grief and struggling to cope. These three beautifully written and diverse characters band together, working to help each other overcome their obstacles and in doing so, realizing that they are no longer alone.

I have not read anything by Gayle Forman before, so I wasn’t at all sure what to expect in I Have Lost My Way, and was more than pleasantly surprised to find myself immediately hooked from the first few pages. It was a light and easy read, and it wasn’t long before I felt invested in the characters, eager to see how things turn out. It was an emotional read and I loved the themes of empathy and loss, and seeing how important sometimes even the little things can be to someone.

* This ebook ARC was provided by Simon & Schuster through NetGallery for an honest review.


Ace of Shades (The Shadow Game #1) by Amanda Foody

February 22, 2018

Ace of Shades is a dark fantasy novel set in the deviant and twisted City of Sin where casinos, magic, crime and gangs are rife. Enne, more used to being a proper lady, is more than a little out of her depth. Finishing school did not prepare her for this! Still she is determined to find her missing mother and unravel the secrets of her past.

The story begins with Enne’s arrival in the port of the City of Sin, after having spent a couple of weeks at sea. At first, she has only her tourist’s guidebook, ‘The City of Sin, a Guidebook: Where To Go and Where Not To,’ to aid her, but it isn’t long till she enlists the help of bad boy Crime Lord, Levi and his people.

And right from the first chapter, you’re dropped into the thick of the action that rarely seems to let up in the 400 or so pages that the story unfolds in.

Enne starts off as a somewhat whiny proper young lady, that struggles with the onslaught of everything that is this City, but over the course of the book we get to see her harden up, and really develop and grow as a character, becoming more bold, sassy with a bit of bad-ass, which I absolutely loved.

Levi is not your typical bad-boy. He is bisexual, has emotional depth, friendships, his own goals and desires. He’s not quite as hard or as seasoned as some of the other Crimelords in the story, and has a strong relationship and bond with his mate Jac, a fellow Iron, which was great to see play out. I loved his aura-reading ability and I very eagerly imagined all the bookish candles that could be created to reflect the scenes and colours that he sees with everyone he’s close enough to depict an aura of.

The world building was phenomenal, with an amazing amount of detail that was just very casually distributed throughout the story, from the drinks, to the food, the streets, and the buildings, you could tell the story was very much a labor of love for Amanda Foody.

There’s a bit of a hint of romance, but it wasn’t the main focus of the story. Certainly there was no insta-love, but rather, the sparks are flying and it is a slow burn, developing slowly as the story progresses, and I can’t wait to see where things end up in the sequel between them.

All-in-all, I absolutely loved this book, enough that I’m going to be going out to get a hard-cover copy as soon as it hits the shelves and will be eagerly waiting the sequel.

* This ebook ARC was provided by Harlequin Teen through Edelweiss+ for an honest review.